Growing Wild Flowers from Seed

Most seeds of vegetables and cultivated flowers come up quickly and evenly. However, this is largely the result of plant breeding, and wildflowers are much more erratic. It is not after all in the plant’s interest to have all its seed germinate at once, since in a wild environment bad weather or disease could destroy them all.

Growing Wild Flowers from SeedSome seeds take a month or two to germinate and sometimes come up in two or more flushes. Always keep a seed tray for up to a year if only a few seedlings have emerged — the seeds are not necessarily dead. Some seeds need special conditions for germination, the most common being a period of very low temperatures or fluctuating warm and cold. To do this, sow them in a seed tray in autumn and leave them outside over winter, covered with a piece of glass or plastic to keep out pests and excess wet. Most seed should germinate in spring. If you need to sow in spring, sometimes you can trick the seeds into germinating by giving them an artificial winter in the fridge. The exact conditions necessary will depend on the species, so look for instructions on the seed packet. If none is given, or if you have collected your own seed, try the following method.

Chilling Seeds

Mix the content of the seed packet with about half a cupful of moist sand in a polythene bag. Tie the top of the bag, label it with the species and date and put it in your fridge (not freezer) and leave for 6-8 weeks.

After this time, remove the bag and spread the sand out on a seed tray of moist compost. Water the tray using a fine rose attachment, cover it with glass or clear polythene, and leave it in a fairly warm place where the temperature is approximately 15°C (59°F). Make sure there is enough light but avoid. Direct sunlight.

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